Since you were born two of my mom-friends have passed away, leaving behind young children. Motherless. Adult friends have grieved the loss of their own mothers. My mother’s mother has passed away. Your father’s best friend passed suddenly and unexpectedly. When someone you love passes away you often sort through their things while you miss them, and try to learn more about them as you can only learn from what was left behind. You crave a message from “beyond” so to speak. Some last few words. Something that you can hold onto for a little bit longer. You wonder why they didn’t leave something behind with you to hold onto.
My letters to you come in part from my seeing that wanting in others.
One day I am going to leave you motherless.
That’s a fear in every mother’s heart. It ranks right up there with the fears around losing a child. One day you’ll be motherless. Hopefully a day way far into a distant future when I’m old and gray and you’ve had a chance to come to terms with mortality and you’re a bit old and gray yourself. Sometimes it happens sooner, though. And the thought of that makes me cry, because I’ve lost.. And loss hurts.. And Iwant so much to be there for you to teach you that it’s okay to grieve, to question, to mourn and then to move on. I hope to be there for you for a very long time to come.
That’s what mothers hope for. They hope this so very much that often they try and hide from the other possibilities. They try and say to themselves that it’s a long way off. They don’t leave behind letters to tempt fate or to raise questions. They don’t want to think about it just now. Maybe they’ll leave a will which is scary all on its own but at least it carries the calm of being just a responsibility to do, a duck to line up in a row. A checkbox to tick off.
I want to leave behind a letter about being motherless.
I want you to know that if my end was long and hard.. That I was grateful for every moment that I was able to fight to stay with you. That I birthed you, that I passed through that first pain with you, that I fear no pain, that I truly am grateful for every moment. People wonder about that. I don’t want you to. People feel guilty and wonder if their loved one held on and suffered out of obligation. No, sweetheart. If I hold on it is because I want to. Because it is important to me, because I am not ready yet to go. Not because there’s something that you need to worry about or feel guilty about, love.
I want you to know that if my end was quick and I had even a moment to think, my thoughts were not of fear they were of wanting to fight to stay with you. People wonder about that. I don’t want you to.
I want you to know that there was nothing that you could have done or should have done. No guilt. No blame. No matter how or what happened. People wonder about that. I don’t want you to.
I want you to know of all the times I held you in the dark of the night and whispered that I loved you. I want you to know of every day that your little body grew where I loved you dear and held you tight. I want you to feel that love in your body as an indelible part of your soul. Not as something that once was and that passed, but something that grew into you as part of you that you can never lose. You are LOVED. Fiercely. Deeply.
Grief, love.. It means that something important and lovely feels lost. You can’t lose the time that our lives overlapped. The memories that you have and the moments that we spent together are permanent. I will be with you in that way always. The size of your grief should tell you this. Simple little things aren’t things that we grieve. We grieve the big huge things that etch themselves into our hearts and souls permanently. Because we think that those things can be lost.
They can’t be. They stay exactly where they are. They are not lost. You will simply grow past me and into your own beautiful future, like a vine that grows past the plant. This is okay. It’s okay to outlive me. It’s what I’d want.
I will live as long and as strong as I can, because I want to see you live and grow and etch out your own life. I will live as long and as strong as I can because I want to etch out mine. Because I’m excited and happy for many different types of future that might stretch out in front of us. Because every day is a beautiful blessing that takes place in so many forms.
Death leaves behind many questions. It’s okay to question and to grieve and to be sad and wail and beat the ground and do all of the things to get that sadness out. It’s also okay to find that space to breathe again, to leave me behind in the past after my life has reached its natural end. Ask the questions, seek the answers, but never let yourself question this: YOU ARE DEEPLY LOVED. Not “were”. ARE. Fiercely. Indelibly. Permanently. I gave you this love with every kiss, every hug, every night in the dark when I bounced you to sleep. I gave you this love the first time I held you after you were born. Every time you came home from school. Every time I buckled you into the stroller or the car seat. Every time I nursed you or fed you a spoonful of fo0d.
Death cannot erase love. It can’t. It won’t.
I love you. Permanently. That is simply how a parent loves a child.
(Rest in peace Bernadette, Milenka, Nora, Tania’s mom, and all other mothers who have felt this deep permanent love.)